Variocoele questions
6 Replies
pioneer - December 30

My wife and I are TTC. After a couple low SA results it was discovered that I have Variocoele. I am going to have the operation to have this repaired in the hopes that things will improve enough to make a difference either naturally or for artificial methods (IUI, IVF, etc.)

What can I expect during the operation? Do most patients choose local or full anesthetics? Is there a preference from the doctor's standpoint? Or is it just a personal preference? How much pain will I have during and after the operation? And how long will it last? How long do the stitches remain? How much recovery time will I need? How much bed rest and relaxation? When can I be active again? How soon for sex and how soon for normal activity?

I realize it might take a few months for my sperm to improve and each situation is different, but what is the typical percentage improvement? What else can you tell me about the procedure and the results?

I've asked a few doctors on some of these forums and most say the answers are usually dependent on the doctor performing the procedure. But I wanted to hear from a few others who have gone through this procedure and hear about their experiences. Its one thing to hear from the doctor, but quite another to hear from a fellow sufferer... and hopefully some success stories...




doglover - December 30

Hello J,

My wife brought your post to my attention, and although I want to discuss fertility (and lack thereof) about as much as I'd like someone to stick needles under my toenails, I actually had my bag of worms "dewormed" just last week so hopefully I can shed a little light on the subject.

I self-diagnosed myself as having a varicocele based on some google search results and a little manhandling. To confirm my layman diagnosis, I made an appointment with a urologist, whom, after some further manhandling (this time in the fingers of a professional) he confirmed that I did indeed have not only a varicocele on the left side (more common), but also to a lesser degree on the right. He also "listened" with a doppler as he had me bear down, and you could definately hear the backflow of blood. So...I was scheduled for surgery at my request. I forget what the % chance of successfully improving sperm count/quality is but if I recall it was around 50-60%. I'll take those odds anyday if it allows us to actually have some return to normalcy (sex life, romance, pregnancy the old-fashioned way, the chance to bring copulation out of the test-tube and back into the bedroom/countertop/washing machine/etc.)

I went to the outpatient surgery center, was prepped, and went into surgery under general anesthesia, unconscious, but not intubated. The procedure took about 2 hours, and then I woke up, no worse for the wear. They prescibed me Percocet, which I didn't need, although I was quite painful and out of commission for a good 3 days afterward (I do have a high pain threshhold, but I was quite uncomfortable once the anesthetics wore off). In terms of work...well, I was told I would be able to return to work the next day... let's just say maybe if you work from home and can lay on the couch, muttering out commands to subordinates via a webcam while writhing in pain, or something similar to that. There was no way I was doing any physical labor the following day. I'm a firefighter and had to work on that Monday following surgery (Friday), I was ok by then, but I'm still sore around the suture sites even now (one week later). We had a pretty substantial fire that Wednesday night, which I was a participant in physically, and I had no problems, but again the sites are still sore. After the holiday I will call the MD and ask him if the steady pain is normal. The sutures will dissolve, but I don't think they have yet, at least not entirely.
Apparently, like you stated, it takes at least 6 months for full recovery, and sperm improvement (hopefully). I hope this helps. It is obviously a personally choice, but I'm glad I had the procedure. My wife is currently pregnant following a successful IVF (after several unsuccessful IVF/IUI's) so we're very excited. We have been able to get her issues tweaked, so if this surgery corrects (or improves) my on-again/off-again sperm maybe we will be able to have our next child without so much intervention. I just hope it would be nice to be normal again. :o)
Please don't hesistate to contact me if you have any further questions.

Hang in there, and good luck.



pioneer - January 1

Thanks, Jeff.

It does help to hear about your experiences. Some have no pain and some have a lot. Or anywhere in between. YMMV as the saying goes. It does comfort me to know a little more about the actual procedure. When you first hear about it you get some crazy ideas in your head on how they do this surgery. :o

My wife and I would prefer to do things the natural way too. It certainly is way more enjoyable. ;)

I'm glad to hear you and your wife are expecting. Congratulations! Where have you been going for your treatments? Depending how well this works out for me, I may still be looking for a good clinic myself. How well do you like the clinic you went to? Where they helpful? Do you feel they did a good job? Would you recommend them to others? I've been researching different doctors and clinics and would be interested on your opinions.

All this is still so new to me, I still seem to be in a bit of a daze. It was hard to believe that I had a problem. I certainly never expected it. At first we were worried about my wife then it turns out she seems to be ok. It's me this time. ???

But as time goes on I hope to announce good news myself... until then...

Thanks again.


doglover - January 1

Hi James
I am Jeff's wife (I apologize if he is a bit of a jokester but thankfully we have made it through this difficult journey, and a lot of it has been due to a good sense of humor!). I saw your post and wanted to ask where you live before I comment on our clinic. Overall, it was an okay experience, but I am not sure that I would recommend the facility to anyone. Both Jeff and I have experience in the medical field and ran into multiple conflicts with the clinic throughout the process. I don't think most people would have discovered some of the mistakes, but we are very anal about our medical care. We checked up on EVERYTHING.

All in all, I am glad we did not waste a lot of time doing IUI after IUI. If your count does not improve, I highly recommend you move on to IVF (unless there is a decent chance with IUI). The process will wear on you after a while. We moved onto IVF less than a year after coming to the infertility clinic. We only waited 3 months after our first pregnancy (a miscarriage) to get a referral to the infertilty clinic. I do not think IVF was bad at all. The shots are not enjoyable, but they are really not bad. I felt like it was worthwhile bc we increased our odds of getting pregnant significantly. And it worked!! I felt like the IUI's were a waste of time (we did three total). If you have time and patience, go for it naturally. We know that we want more children and that Jeff's surgery may not improve his problem. I am 32, but I am realistic that I only have a certain number of years until I will start facing issues with the quality of my eggs, etc.

Good luck-let me know if you live in the area!



doglover - January 1

I also forgot to add that we only truly did one complete IVF. The other "IVF" was our clinic's desparate attempt to save a ruined IUI. I made 10 follicles in the process of prepping for an IUI so they tried to extract them last minute (I wish I had never done it, but we had spent a lot of money on the meds). If you do a proper IVF, the chances are quite good of becoming pregnant..



pioneer - January 4


I live in Michigan currently. But am looking to move to a different area. Possibly Boston, Chicago or somewhere in California. I'm hoping to find a good clinic in the Boston area first. But am willing to travel to a good clinic should I find one. Certainly it would be better to live nearby but if worst comes to worst... I will do what is necessary and what I must... if at all possible.

Where abouts do you live? Are you near any of these areas? Are you familiar with them?



Rowena1 - January 5

Please see the thread I posted to Lomar. If you find it let me know if you will be interested in trying the supplement of the carbohydrates. Your chances are so much better if both you and your wife have egg and sperm that have a proper amount of these carbs covering them. Our body cells use these carbs to communicate with each other. Without them our bodies cannot function in a optimum way. Just consider the fact that major diseases like cancer and diabetes has increased especially in younger children. This was not the case 50 years back. Infertility too is much worse than 50+ years back.
Greetings, Rowena (Marthie)



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